California News

Monday, June 18, 2018

West Sacramento Firefighters Upset Over Firehouse Toxic Mold

The city’s newest fire station has toxic mold and the local union is threatening a lawsuit if it’s not cleaned up. “This is one of the rooms where they found some of it,” said Chief John Heilmann while showing two rooms that have been quarantined. The mold is growing around firefighters’ bedrooms. “Didn’t know about the mold issue and how severe it was until they opened up the dorm room upstairs,” he said. The roof has leaked in the past but they never knew just what was growing. It all started last year when mold was discovered in an office. That was quickly eradicated, but the toxins surfaced once again back in March and spores have been multiplying ever since. “It’s not a new issue, it’s been presented before, and now we are taking it to the next step,” said Robert Padilla with the Sacramento Area Firefighters Local 522.
KOVR-TV CBS Sacramento

San Rafael’s volunteer fire photographer fires off last shots

Hearing a buzz from the pager clipped to his belt, Larry Luckham pulls off his button-down Hawaiian shirt to reveal a San Rafael Fire Department T-shirt he’s wearing underneath. He’s always prepared. Quickly, Luckham slides into his fire gear, slips on his boots and hops into his truck, which is equipped with emergency lights and radios along with cameras and other investigation tools. Within minutes, he’s driving toward a house burning on Marina Court Drive. He can see flames as he approaches. On site, Luckham takes photographs and careful notes — a process he’s undergone dozens of times while working as the San Rafael Fire Department’s volunteer photographer and fire investigator. But the drill feels different during this house fire in early March; it’s the last fire Luckham will investigate.
Marin Independent Journal

3 hikers rescued after stranded overnight on Pacifica cliff

Three hikers stranded on a Pacifica cliff for 13 hours were finally rescued Saturday morning. According to North County Fire Authority, on Friday around 9:34 p.m. fire crews and rescue teams responded to the area near Blackburn Terrace and Kent Road. A 23-year-old man and two 13-year-olds were stranded about 700-feet down Shelter Cove Bluff. Due to the location, darkness and gusty wind conditions, firefighters weren't able to reach the victims. The rescue team stayed in touch throughout the night and provided updates to the victims' family. On Saturday a CHP helicopter was dispatched to the area and firefighters safely rescued the victims. After 13 long hours, the three hikers were reunited with family and checked by medical personnel.
KRON TV NBC 4 San Francisco

Inmate firefighter found, arrested in Long Beach days after walking away from fire camp

Police arrested inmate firefighter Marco Calderon, 22, in Long Beach on Friday, June 15 after he disappeared from a fire camp earlier in the week. Calderon walked away from McCain Valley Conservation Camp in east San Diego County on June 13. He had been last seen in his assigned bunk around 11:00 p.m. and was later reported missing around 1:30 a.m. After conducting a thorough investigation, Special Service Unit agents determined Calderon was a transient and was living out of a car with his fiancé in Long Beach. Agents arrested Calderon near Cesar Chavez Park. He was transported to the California Institution for Men in Chino. Agents are investigating whether his fiancé was involved in the escape and if so, she will be taken into custody.
KGTV-TV ABC 10 San Diego

Former Santa Rosa fire chief predicted a fire like the Tubbs

My friend the mayor of Santa Rosa was scratching out a living as a freelance Press Democrat columnist in 2012 and was sparked to write about wildfires in Colorado, where he lived before coming to California. Chris Coursey noted that the Waldo Canyon Fire near Colorado Springs, the most destructive in the state’s history, had killed two people, forced the evacuation of 30,000 and destroyed 350 homes. Chris wrote in July of that year that in Colorado Springs and in Santa Rosa and elsewhere across the country, 10 million homes were built between 1990 and 2008 in or adjacent to the wildland-urban interface, “the zone between city and country where concrete gives way to forest, brush and grass.” “In Santa Rosa,” he added, “think of areas such as Fountaingrove and Skyhawk.”
Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Fire Chief recommends the closure of 7 ’hazardous fire areas’, including Whitewater Canyon

CAL FIRE/Riverside County Fire Chief, Daniel R. Talbot received approval from the Riverside County Board of Supervisors to immediately close seven hazardous fire areas throughout the region on June 18, 2018. On Thursday at least three small fires sparked near Idyllwild. People living nearby say it's a reminder to be prepared for the season. “It’s a dry season. We haven’t had much rain. The winter was horrible. We didn’t really get any snow. So it’ll be interesting to see what happens,” said Chris Jones, an Idyllwild local. Others are asking locals and visitors to be careful. "If you have a closed fire, that’s cool, but things get out of control super easy, super fast. We don’t know why, we’re locals, but three fires? That’s enough to question. I really hope people be careful,” said Jamie Starkey Peterson.
KESQ-TV Channel 3

Friday, June 15, 2018

Redondo Beach firefighters locked in contract talks, emergency response potentially on table

Redondo Beach firefighters are gridlocked in contract negotiations over an issue that could affect emergency services, said union president Greg Allen. At issue is the number of firefighters on duty at any given time. Currently, the union’s contract with the city provides 19 full time staff on duty every day in addition to three fire engines, one truck, two paramedic rescues and a battalion or division chief. Typically, the union negotiates over wages and benefits, but this year Allen said the firm hired to negotiate on behalf of the city is pushing for flexibility in the number of minimum firefighters on duty each day, referred to as constant manning or minimum staffing, Allen said. “They want the ability to take away that part of our contract and decide from day to day the ability to brown out,” Allen said.
Torrance Daily Breeze

Ghost Ship fire trial on schedule for July after defendants refuse plea offer

The trial against two men charged in the deaths of 36 people in Oakland’s 2016 Ghost Ship fire is headed for its scheduled start date next month, after defense attorneys on Thursday rebuffed a plea offer and a judge denied an attempt to delay the trial. The trial against two men charged in the deaths of 36 people in Oakland’s 2016 Ghost Ship fire is headed for its scheduled start date next month, after defense attorneys on Thursday rebuffed a plea offer and a judge denied an attempt to delay the trial. Briggs had asked for more time to allow his forensic experts to prepare for the case. But a judge on Thursday ultimately sided with prosecutors — as well as Almena’s attorney—who argued that the July 16 trial should remain on schedule. Tony Serra, Almena’s attorney, said there are “psychological consequences” for prolonging his client’s pretrial detention. Serra, who described Almena as an artist and a “free spirit” said his client had been depressed in jail and gained 40 pounds.
SF Gate: San Francisco Chronicle - Metered Site

Toxic pool chemicals sicken 20 people in San Jose

Toxic pool chemicals that mixed together have sent at least 35 people to the hospital. The incident happened around 12 p.m. at the Shadow Brook Swim Club on Shadow Brook Drive in San Jose. Firefighters say a pool worker mistakenly mixed the toxic chemicals together and it created a dangerous cloud of gas. The pool worker became ill almost immediately after being exposed to the mixture. The victims reported symptoms of nausea, vomiting and trouble breathing. The 35 patients were rushed to nine different hospitals. Investigators say the victims were decontaminated and are recovering at local hospitals. The victims range in age from 6 to parents. Fire officials say people who were exposed and aren't immediately showing any symptoms could still be in danger.
KRON TV NBC 4 San Francisco

Explosive Hemet carport fire displaces 20, destroys vehicles

Multiple vehicles were damaged or destroyed in an explosive carport fire in Hemet overnight Friday. The fire was reported at an apartment complex shortly after 1 a.m. in the 600 block of Carson Street. Hemet firefighters were initially dispatched for a report of multiple explosions and people trapped. When fire units arrived, they discovered several cars fully involved in flames in a carport with exposure to the apartment building, fire officials said. Quick-thinking firefighters, with the help of Riverside County Cal Fire crews, kept the vicious wall of flames from extending into the apartment building and declared the blaze a knockdown. Residents were evacuated, and about 20 people had to be displaced, officials said. Two civilians were injured while trying to hop a back fence during the evacuation and amid the chaos.

Butte County Cal Fire headquarters demolished to make room for new project

After nearly 70 years, Cal Fire's Butte Unit Headquarters on the corner of Nelson Ave and Del Oro Ave in Oroville is coming down, and will be replaced by a new facility, according to Cal Fire officials. The facilities that are to come will be a far cry from the old buildings that Oroville residents may remember. Cal Fire Battalion Chief Russ Fowler said the upgrade is long overdue. "It'd become obsolete. Our fire engines no longer fit in the fire station without doing some significant changes to make them fit," Fowler said. "So it's just, holding the facility together with a band-aid is pretty much what we were doing." Cal Fire has owned the land there since the 1940s, and will continue to do so after the renovation project. There's only one building still standing on the premises, but that too will be knocked down to make room for the new ones.

San Diego County Fire Authority Looks Ahead To Summer Fire Season

The San Diego County Fire Authority and Cal Fire San Diego say they are confident they have enough resources to prevent large scale fires this summer. But as more fires flare up throughout California, San Diego's local resources could be stretched. "As we continue to get busier and other places have fires and we start sharing aircraft, I think that’s when we see some of these smaller fires that escape and become major fires," said San Diego County Fire Authority and Cal Fire San Diego Chief Tony Mecham. The San Diego County Fire Authority was created 10 years ago to help coordinate fire protection. Since then, the region has amassed a number of wildfire resources.

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